Retired NHLer Tells Insane Stories About the Biggest Russian Draft Bust of All Time

Published May 29, 2023 at 2:28 PM
Mike Rupp shares stories about Nikolai Zherdev and his insane habits in the NHL.

Retired NHLer Tells Insane Stories About the Biggest Russian Draft Bust of All Time

In the 2003 NHL draft, Nikolai Zherdev was picked 4th overall for his hands and skills. Despite having all of the talent in the world, Zherdev only had a 6 season NHL career.

Mike Richards described him as the most talented player he ever played with which is high praise considering Richards played with Alex Ovechkin and Claude Giroux.


Throughout his NHL career, he had many great moments like this goal.

However, he was plagued with a poor mindset and not wanting to deal with authority. Apparently, he fell asleep on the bench one time which is not NHL hockey behavior.

Zherdev also would not want to do the workouts given to him so head coach Gerard Gallant started fining him $100 for every workout he missed. In response to this, Zherdev gave the team a $3,000 cheque to pay for the next month of workouts he was not going to do.

Zherdev was also a party animal and would drink a lot. Mike Rupp said the following about Zherdev's English:

"The more he drank the better English he spoke"

Zherdev would pretend to not understand what his coach meant when he told him to do a play he did not want to do while being fluent in English in an intoxicated state.

This is sad considering the talent associated with Zherdev and if he were to just take things more seriously, he could still be in the NHL tearing up the league.

Hailing from Kyiv, Ukraine, there is debate on Zherdev being the best Ukrainian hockey player of all time.